Bentley Motors has today opened the doors to its UK staff as it kickstarts its assembly line that churns out thousands of luxury cars every year.
Some 1,700 workers returned to the British firm’s headquarters in Crewe on Monday.
They were greeted by an entirely different looking factory and a set of 250 new ‘comprehensive’ safety guidelines to comply with Covid-19 social distancing requirements.
Bentley back to work: The British car firm’s Crewe production line reopened on Monday with 1,700 staff resuming outputs
Production of the in-demand £133,000 Bentayga SUV and £240,000 Mulsanne limo have restarted first, while the Continental GT (£150,000) and Flying Spur (£168,000) line will recommence from next Monday.
The British car builder has reopened its production facility with the new slogan and programme it’s called ‘Come Back Stronger’.
Last week, colleagues were briefed on the protocol – including new working patterns, operations and environment – during socially-distanced briefing and training sessions.
This was employees first chance to get their heads around the new wide-ranging hygiene guidelines to guarantee their safety while building vehicles.
On return today for the first time in over seven weeks, workers entered a redesigned manufacturing facility that has measures in place to allow two-metre distance between individuals, and one-way movement paths and traffic flows around the 521,111-square-metre facility, of which 166,930m2 is indoors.
Some 250 ‘comprehensive’ new measures have been put in place as part of the firm’s ‘Come Back Stronger’ programme to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic, including temperature checks on arrival
The car firm shows the two-metre social distancing requirement, which is the same as the width of one of its luxury models
In relevant office areas where distancing is challenging, plastic partitions – designed and manufactured by Bentley workers – now offer segregation between colleagues
Bentley has even ‘reconfigured’ its toilets across the site to reduce the number of people being able to use them.
On each line, production will be running at approximately 50 per cent for a number of weeks, with each luxurious car taking twice as long to produce.
The remaining 500 manufacturing workers are anticipated to go back to the Cheshire plant by the middle of June, based on current assumptions and government guidance.
Other new measures Bentley has put in place for car production
– Facemasks are now compulsory in all factory and office areas.
– Personal protection equipment – including facemasks, gloves, goggles – are provided as necessary, both to colleagues and in parallel donated to the local care sector.
– The company will retain a work from home policy for those who are able to.
– Health temperature checks administered to staff on a daily basis.
– An enhanced cleaning routine.
– New guidance to the workforce on limiting the risk of infection in areas such as meeting governance, site access and travel.
– In relevant office areas and catering facilities where distancing is more challenging, plastic partitions – designed and manufactured by Bentley workers – now offer segregation between colleagues.
– Capacity limits in smaller areas to ensure control measures.
– Staggered start, finish and break periods and distanced seating in communal areas.
– Stringent measures to control the population density on site at any one time.
– All entry and exit points reviewed and reconfigured to disperse the volume of people.
Bentley is the third UK car maker to resume production following the Covid-19 lockdown, with Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin both restarting outputs from the beginning of last week.
The car maker has provided a huge insight into the lengths it has gone to in order to put measures in place.
This includes the production of a home-issued guide for staff, including video tutorials and a newly created Employee News app designed to ease any uncertainty that this challenging period prompts.
Personal protection equipment – including facemasks, gloves, goggles – are provided as necessary, both to colleagues and in parallel donated to the local care sector
Outputs of the in-demand £133,000 Bentayga SUV started first(as seen in the image left)
Commenting on the production restart, Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and CEO at Bentley Motors, said: ‘We have introduced extensive new working measures to protect our colleagues, our families and our customers and we are confident, following the work of so many people, that being at Bentley will be as safe for our colleagues as being anywhere else.
‘We have a strong order bank, around eight months of customer orders to manufacture, established parts supply routes and patient customers who are looking to receive their extraordinary cars as soon as possible.
‘We will ramp up in a controlled, measured way to ensure we manage this continued demand, and look ahead and in spite of this interruption continue on our journey to lead sustainable luxury mobility in the future.’
One-way movement paths and traffic flows have been introduced around the 521,111-square-metre facility in Creshire, of which 166,930m2 is indoors.
Today was the first chance for workers to get their heads around the new wide-ranging hygiene guidelines introduced to guarantee their safety while building vehicles
Last week, colleagues were briefed on the protocol – including new working patterns, operations and environment – during socially-distanced briefing and training sessions
UK car makers’ plans to return from lockdown
Rolls Royce – Went back on 4 May
Rolls-Royce is to become the first UK car firm to restart full production after the coronavirus lockdown, with staff returning on May 4. Bosses said that 1,000 employees – half the total workforce – would be back on the production line from that date resuming production of its exclusive Phantom, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan models. Support staff such as marketing and sales will continue to work from home. The firm’s factory at Goodwood near Chichester will operate one shift daily, rather than the usual two. Staff will wear protective clothing and masks, and will observe social distancing rules in line with Health and Safety advice.
Aston Martin – Went back on 5 May
Aston Martin Lagonda has announced that it will resume operations at its St Athan facility, in Wales on 5 May, following guidelines from Public Health Wales and Public Health England to protect its workforce. It said it will take ‘learnings in terms of health and safety’ into account when it reopens its main car plant in Gaydon, Warwickshire, at a later date.
Jaguar Land Rover – Due to go back from 18 May
Britain’s biggest car maker, Jaguar Land Rover, has announced it is to ‘gradually’ resume production at two of its UK plants on May 18 amid ‘robust’ guidelines to support a return to work. Bosses at JLR said that manufacturing will resume at its major assembly line in Solihull, West Midlands, and at its engine plant in Wolverhampton next month. JLR has furloughed around half its workforce – though it has been taking the option to top-up their pay to 100 per cent. It confirmed that around a quarter of the Solihull workforce will return in mid-May – the production hub for SUV models including the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F-Pace.
Nissan – TBC
Nissan has announced plans to begin building cars again in June after suspending production more than six weeks ago. The car giant said its Sunderland plant will remain closed throughout May, with a phased resumption of work the following month. During the lockdown, Nissan staff have used their production and distribution skills to help make personal protective equipment, including visors and gowns, for the NHS. The Japanese firm had previously been piloting new safety measures at the Sunderland plant using 50 members of staff who returned to work last week.
Vauxhall – TBC
French bosses of Vauxhall said that the Ellesmere Port factory – which produces the Astra – has been ‘active’ during the lockdown to implement a protocol of reinforced health measures. This features more than 100 measures, such as checking employees’ temperatures and them self-monitoring symptoms. The wearing of glasses on site will also be supplemented by a daily individual supply of masks, and respecting safe distances between people. Measures include break areas with markings on the floor, keeping doors open – except fire doors – to avoid contact with handles and frequent cleaning of tools. The company will also hang red tape from the factory roof to ensure workers stay two metres apart on the floor, and also place markings in rest areas and even at urinals in the men’s toilets.
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